1983 Scorecard Vote
At the time of this vote, the Reagan Administration had begun offering leases for vast areas of the ocean off our coasts to oil and gas companies. These huge leases could not possibly be adequately studied for environmental impacts in the short time allowed. This greatly increased the risk of serious damage from a major oil spill or blowup, and put America's beaches and fisheries in danger. Most of our sport and commercial fish spend part of their lives in coastal wetlands. Also, by flooding the market when oil prices were already low, the Administration's leasing proposals would have given away the nation's offshore oil for billions of dollars less than the oil was really worth.
This vote was on the Hatfield motion, which was intended to protect a 30 mile wide buffer zone along Florida's Gulf Coast from oil and gas drilling. The Interior Department was planning to lease 50 million acres here. The swamps and estuaries lining this coast are critical nursery areas and extremely important to Florida's fishing and tourist industries. The proposed lease would also have endangered the manatees -- huge marine mammals of which only 1,000 remain. The state of Florida and nearly everyone in the Florida congressional delegation supported Hatfield.
Hatfield motion accepted 71-20; November 17, 1983. YES is the pro-environmental vote. (Hatfield motion to table the Johnston amendment to H.R. 3959.) The Reagan Administration opposed the Hatfield amendment, but in the end, Florida's Gulf Coast buffer zone was kept intact.